Formula 1’s chiefs have singled out three specific events where its experimental qualifying race format could be trialed in 2020, pending a unanimous agreement from teams.
To spice up the show and instill more unpredictability into the sport, F1 is seeking to trial short sprint races on Saturday afternoon as a replacement for the weekend’s traditional qualifying session, with results forming the grid for Sunday’s race.
Drivers would line up on the grid of a qualifying race in the reverse order of the world championship standings.
However, such a late change to the FIA’s Sporting Regulation requires unanimity among the teams. And reports suggest that several outfits are currently reluctant to the concept of qualifying races.
Formula 1 and the FIA are targeting Paul Ricard, Spa and Sochi as the three potential venues where qualifying races could be trialed, with these events taking place late enough in the season for a reverse grid to be representative of the title fight.
Many questions remain however, like the process that would govern grid penalties, how retirements would be considered in a mini-race or which compounds would be used?
Teams are also wary of damage that could potentially be sustained in a qualifying race and the additional costs associated with the necessity to have extra spare parts available.
Furthermore, Mercedes’ initial qualifying race simulations showed that the front-running drivers placed at the back of the grid would only make little progress through the field in a short sprint race in which there would be no pitstops and in which everyone would likely use the same tyres.
While all teams must agree to the concept being experimented in 2020, the FIA could push the change through without the teams’ consent for 2021, a unilateral move that could entice those currently against qualifying races to change their stance.